Wednesday, March 5, 2014

For the Record: February 2014

Here in California, winter has been quite the opposite of winter in the rest of the States.  We haven't really had one.  That's sad - both because we desperately need the moisture, and because winter is my favorite season.  Winter in SoCal is silly enough (temps tend towards the 60s instead of 70s) but usually I can escape back to NorCal and get my fill of snow and icicles.  Not so this year.  Still, I've been trying to make the most of it by getting cozy and reading books anyhow.  It worked pretty well in February!  I feel (for the first time in nine months or so) that I'm finally reading again. Mostly due to intentionally forcing myself to focus and get some reading done.

7 Books Read in February: (12 year-to-date)

2 Read Aloud to my 9 year-old:
  - The Children of Noisy Village, Astrid Lindgren (4.5) Written by the author of Pippi Longstocking, but a bit different in tone.  While I enjoyed this one more than the Pippi books, it makes for an interesting comparison.  The Children of Noisy Village is probably more representative of the time it was written (mid 1940s) which makes Pippi even more of a standout.
  - Because of Winn-Dixie, Kate DiCamillo (4) I find DiCamillo's books to be a little sad, but perhaps that's just the way of modern junior fiction.  This was a re-read, and much more enjoyable read aloud. I got more out of it than my daughter, though she certainly enjoyed the descriptions of the animals.

1 Classic:
  - Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen (5) One of Austen's more serious books, but still quite enjoyable for me...made even more so because of the annotated edition I read.  I highly recommend the Belknap publications.  Not only are they beautiful, but the illustrations and annotations are thoughtful and balanced.

1 Audiobook:
  - The Dog Stars, Peter Heller (4) A little slow to ramp up, and not my preferred topic (post-apocolypse) which is why I opted for the audio version.  Ultimately, the writing style grew on me and I found Heller's dystopia to be realistic.  It ended up being less the story of an end than the story of a beginning.

3 New Books
  - Lexicon, Max Barry (4) From the first Book Riot Quarterly shipment, this was yet another book that wasn't in my usual diet - sort of a plot-based action-filled story.  I found it very enjoyable, largely due to the fact that it revolved around the power of words.  It was like X-Men For Readers.
  - The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion (5)  What a book!  (Thanks Emily!) It's short and sweet and funny and intelligent and completely re-readable.  One of those stories that I could recommend to just about anybody.  This is one I think I'll end up keeping multiple copies on hand so I can hand it out to whomever is nearby.
  - The Moon Sisters, Therese Walsh (4) A review copy of this was sent to me, and I have to say that [after other poor experiences] I was a little worried it would be gimmicky and lacking in depth.  Fortunately, it wasn't.  It was unique and interesting, and bit magical as well.


3 Current Reads:
   - The Interestings, Meg Wolitzer.  I'm reading this for book club, and in some ways it is [so far] much more satisfying to read than I thought it would be.  In other ways, it is just somewhat bland.  I'm getting a lot of those popularity/talent/beauty superiority sort of vibes.  Sort of like The Marriage Plot. I have to finish it by Monday night (I'm currently around page 150 of 480) so I need to kick up the speed.
  - Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides.  I'm mid-way in this read-along.  I'm not enjoying the book much, mostly because I just don't seem to jive with Eugenides.  He bugs me.  :/  But I shall carry on.
  - The Best of McSweeney's.  I didn't progress much in this during February, due to stalling out on a David Foster Wallace story, (I know he's supposed to be amazing but my mind just drifts,) but as soon as I finish my book club book, I'll be back at it.


On My Nightstand:
This is somehow in about the same place it was a month ago, partially due to impulse buys and group reads that pushed their way ahead.  I'm sure I'll have a couple more of those this month, with another Book Riot box and LibraryThing Early Reviewer book on their way.  The good news is that I feel like I'm keeping my TBR list under control, which is always nice because then I have a good excuse to buy more books!

  - The Big Burn, Timothy Egan.  One of my goals this year is to read more nonfiction, so I thought it might help to have it staring me in the face.  I really enjoyed Egan's The Worst Hard Time (about the Dust Bowl) and am looking forward to this one about Teddy Roosevelt and our National Parks and Forest Service.
  - Death Comes to the Archbishop, Willa Cather.  It's been a while since I've read something by Willa Cather, and I'm itching!
  - The Touchstone, Edith Wharton.  This was my Classic's Club Spin.  It's quick, so it should be no problem.



  1. It's a shame you're not liking Middlesex, I thought it was amazing. But good to hear you liked The Rosie Project, it's on my TBR pile

    1. I know so many people who have loved Middlesex that I'm a bit sad I don't love it also. The same thing happened with A Prayer for Owen Meany. :/

  2. I've really wanted to read The Interestings. I have got to read The Rosie Project!! Before that, I'm going to read my first Gaskell....Wives and Daughters. It's long, but I'm looking forward to it. Why haven't I ever read any books by her???

    1. I'm hoping to post about The Interestings soon. The Rosie Project was good! I recently saw a book blogger call it standard chick lit, but I thought it was more than that. The writing came off as simple, but it flowed and gave you a good sense of the characters. Nothing bugged me about the writing, which was a relief (most "standard fare" ends up bugging me).

      The thing I love about Gaskell, (and why I need to read more!) is the sweeping feel to her stories. She's just a good storyteller. She isn't as intense as Charlotte Bronte nor as cutting as Austen can be, but she holds her own. She makes it easy to settle into a story.


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